In a pool that includes pilots, celebrities, and jet-set executives, GARY PLAYER may still win the title for the most well-traveled person on the planet. He’s logged, by his count, more than 15 million miles in 60-plus years both as a professional golfer and now as he oversees businesses including golf-course architecture, thoroughbred racehorse breeding, and wine. The 78-year-old credits his unending stamina to his lifelong attention to fitness and health. We caught up with Player between trips to his stud farm in Colesberg, South Africa, and his family beach house in Plettenberg Bay, South Africa.
"My company is staying extremely busy with over 60 courses in various stages of development. We opened courses in 2013 in South Carolina at Mountain Park (which was one of the only courses to open in North America last year) and in India at DLF Golf and Country Club, both excellent courses for which we received great reviews. We are going to be opening courses across the globe in Honduras, India, and China.
Maintaining the proper nutrition is my rule of thumb when eating while traveling. I try to limit animal fats, dairy, and sweets, and generally attempt to eat more green and less red. Overall, my philosophy is to choose foods that will give me energy, and not ones that will weigh me down. I always carry raw almonds, dried mango, and prunes so that I am not tempted with unhealthy snacks.
Over the years, I have learned that you must sleep on the plane so that you can adjust to the time zone at your destination. I have become a great sleeper on planes.
I do between 1,000 and 1,200 sit-ups four times a week. I think that you can never over-exercise your core. Your core is what holds your body together, after all.
I certainly think that traveling helps keep me young. ‘Rest is rust.’ I truly believe that saying, and I want to continue to stay busy. I never want to ‘retire.’ I still love traveling the world in pursuit of various passions including golf-course design, my stud farm, The Player Foundation, and visiting my 22 grandchildren, who are spread out across the globe.
There is no better place than my thoroughbred racehorse stud farm. Our farm is in the Great Karoo of the Cape Province ... perhaps the most serene place on the planet. You can literally see for miles; there is no manmade noise, the water tastes wonderful, and when it gets dark the stars are so bright you would think you are in a planetarium.
I have always loved horses. If I had not been a professional golfer, I would have been a farmer. Thoroughbred horse breeding may be my greatest passion, besides my family and golf, so I love being hands-on and involved with the farm. I’ve said it before, but it is really true: There is something about the outside of a horse that’s good for the inside of a man.
I still practice so many things. If you are not practicing, you are not growing as a person. I always want to continue to grow and become a better person, a better husband, a better father and grandfather, a better golfer, a better philanthropist, a better thoroughbred racehorse breeder … I could go on and on.”